Personnel: James Michael (vocals, keyboards, programming); DJ Ashba (guitar); Dustin Steinke (drums); Melissa Harding, Amber Vanbuskirk (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: James Michael.
Recording information: Ashbaland Studios, Las Vegas, NV; Red Level Three Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
Sixx: A.M. lightened their load on Modern Vintage, a 2014 album where they spruced up their Sunset Strip sleaze with a bit of vintage glam swagger. The very title of Prayers for the Damned -- the first part of a purported double-album project; the second segment is scheduled for some time later in 2016 -- suggests a return to darkness and, sure enough, the album delivers upon that promise. Hard and heavy, Prayers for the Damned doesn't truck with good times: it's all sturm and drang, tempered by existential protest and calls for all the alienated to rise. These rallying cries ultimately produce a diametrically different effect than The Heroin Diaries, the insular autobiography that kicked off Sixx: A.M.'s career back in 2007. Then, the group was Nikki Sixx's vehicle to exorcise personal demons -- not for nothing did it accompany a written memoir -- but now that Sixx: A.M. is his main creative project, he's channeling greater ambitions into the quartet. Fittingly after a near-decade of work, the band sounds like a cohesive unit, adhering through volume and intensity. Now that the group are comfortable with their chemistry, they're presenting a unified front and confronting the world at large; it's music that looks outward. Sixx: A.M. may still battle misanthropic demons rattling inside their heads, and sometimes they'll succumb to overdriven murk -- a sludgy sound that conveys gloom but gets gloopy -- but the ambition on this first part of Prayers for the Damned is admirable. Better still, they often manage to take this roiling outrage and shape it into something melodramatically satisfying, an achievement that suggests why Sixx had no trouble saying goodbye to Mötley Crüe. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine